KINGSTON, Jamaica - CHARLTON Riley made another rare comeback appearance in the saddle on Saturday, March 25, 2023, and this time the veteran rider says there is the hope of becoming a regular fixture on race programmes, with the aim of riding winners.
Riley was aboard Jubbie Wap Wap for trainer Michael Thomas in the eighth race, a native-bred three-year-old call for fillies over 5½ furlongs (1,100m). Jubbie Wap Wap finished down the track.
“The feeling right now is amazing. I mean, it is a good feeling to be back here, and riding at Caymanas Park. It is just wonderful. I came back here because I will be here for the rest of the year, and I thought that I would just spend the entire time here at Caymanas Park riding,” Riley informed.
“I am here with the focus of riding some winners. The plan is just for me to get some rides. When you reach a certain age the owners have the option to say that they don’t want that [older jockey] on their horses; they would rather the younger riders with more strength.
“Age is just a number for me. I just want the rides, and once I get the live rides I will show them that I still have the touch. I am a capable and dependent rider,” the soon-to-be 64-year-old Riley said.
Riley, who last rode at Caymanas Park in 2011, said that the lack of support was the main factor in his departure as he believed he would have gotten more encouragement following his upset win aboard Blood Song on May 17.
Blood Song was Riley’s first win in over 18 years after he had won aboard the late Wayne DaCosta-conditioned Iditarod in 2003.
“After I won aboard Blood Song I thought that I would have gotten some more rides, but that was not the case. The rides never came my way, although I had been working hard. After the lack of support, I went to Florida and spent some time there exercising horses.
Riley, who has won more than 100 races in his career, began riding at Caymanas Park in 1978. He noted that he has no plan to retire from the sport any time soon because once he is healthy, he will be riding for as long as possible.